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On Drones, Ladsous Bypasses C-34 on Who Gets Info, Bid Open March 18

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 21 – Who is supposed to oversee UN Peacekeeping, for example its chief Herve Ladsous' urge to use drones?

   Last spring Ladsous floated the idea of drones in the UN's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, called C-34 even though it now has 148 countries as members. Numerous countries came out and complained to Inner City Press about the proposal, including on the issue of who would get the information from the drones.

   Ladsous never returned to C-34 to seek approval. Rather, on November 28, 2012 a procurement process began with the solicitation of “Expressions of Interest” for drones in West Africa and Central Africa.

   After the M23 rebels took over Goma, Ladsous used the opportunity to bypass the C-34 and its 148 (then 147) members and go to the 15 members of the Security Council.

  There, he managed to procure a letter on January 22 green-lighting a drone for the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa, on a “case by case” basis.

A new procurement process began, with bids to be opened on March 18. Inner City Press has obtained and scanned a record of the procurement and puts it online here.


  (The document also has procurements for MONUSCO for helicopters and aircraft, and for "VVIP Transport.")

    Back in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping, Inner City Press received complaints this week from delegations who said they and the C-34 were being bypassed.

  One delegate told Inner City Press up to 120 countries are against or have questions about Ladsous' drone proposal. But there was a sense of defeatism. “They'll just do what they want anyway,” the delegate told Inner City Press.

   Why? Where is separation and balance of powers in the UN?

On February 15, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about the drones:

Inner City Press: the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, upon his return to Kinshasa, has been quoted as saying that the MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] drones may be deployed as early as June. It made some people believe maybe this was conveyed to the Prime Minister either in his meeting with the Secretary-General or in some other way. When was it conveyed or separately, factually, when are these drones going to be deployed?

Spokesperson Nesirky: On the first part, not to my knowledge; on the second part, as I think we have mentioned before, the procurement process is under way, so plainly put, we do not have these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at this point, so it is probably premature to talk about a deployment. But let me check.

Inner City Press:Under-Secretary-General Ladsous when he gave his press conference said the information in the first instance would be for the Force Commander of MONUSCO, but that he would be willing to share it with the regional groups, ICGLR [International Conference on the Great Lakes Region] or SADC [Southern African Development Community], or whoever is going to run that force. Now I sent it to you in writing as well, but I just wanted to know, is it totally in DPKO’s [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] discretion who they give the information to, because it sounded like he personally would be willing to share it, or did they need some either guidance or approval from the Security Council in terms of who they give the information feed from the UAV to?

Spokesperson: I’ll check, Matthew. I am not absolutely sure that that particular operational aspect would be under the Security Council, but I need to check. [There's been no answer in the six days since]

   How about the C-34? Will they step up and do their oversight duty? On the drones and Ladsous' failure to implement the UN's stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy with respect to the 126 rapes in Minova from November 20 to 22, 2012 by the Congolese Army?

   And on Ladsous' failure to institute any safeguards to avoid spreading cholera as happened in Haiti? Watch this site.

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